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San Diego Meteorologist Chrissy Russo soothes wet weather woes

Weather expert Chrissy Russo soothes angst over possibly more non-sunny skies


San Diego spoils me. I live for the sunny-and-72 weather stereotype. I’m easy, though. No complaints here when it cools off to 65. Nor do I fuss when Santa Ana winds crank temperatures up into the 80s. 

Then came the 2023 deluge. By mid-March, San Diego International Airport had measured 9.11 inches of rain, nearly double the usual rate of precipitation. We got more rain than Seattle (7.43 inches). Seattle! Where babies are born with galoshes and umbrella theft is a felony.    

Sorry. Rainy and 59 is an unacceptable forecast for a whole quarter of San Diego’s calendar. I was ready to “cry me a river” to anybody who’d listen. 

So, in late March, I reached out to local weather expert Chrissy Russo. She’s a meteorology maven with two decades on the air at KSWB-Fox 5 (formerly XETV). We met at a coffee shop in Point Loma. Remarkably, it was a sunny afternoon. Note: Not a week later, it rained on the San Diego Padres’ Opening Day.

Russo and I are homies who hail from neighboring East Coast states (me Maryland; her Virginia). Russo moved to University City in 2001. She intended to stay a year but never went back to Norfolk. 

Why? “This town literally has the best people in the world,” she says. “When I first started doing the weather, I was like a child. My crew thought I was an intern. But year after year, there’s been nothing but amazing goodness, greatness, and kindness.” 

Me: And the weather’s usually great, too, right?

Of course, but Russo remembers being fooled the first time she saw massive dark clouds over the Pacific. “Holy mackerel, that’s a huge thunderstorm and it’s coming right at me,” she recalls thinking. She hustled inside. It took a few minutes to realize this was her first up-close look at maritime fog.

The dreaded marine layer. The culprit behind “May Gray” and “June Gloom.” A weather phenomenon that occurs when relatively dry and warm air moves atop a body of cooler water. It can dusk the coastline for weeks and trigger a depression the National Institutes of Health calls Seasonal Affective Disorder.

As planned, I ranted to Russo about how San Diegans don’t deserve a May Gray after the weather we, gasp, survived to kick off 2023.

She looked at me with pity but offered tough love. Bad weather doesn’t faze her.

“I like rain,” Russo says. “You can make some soup, cuddle up, watch movies, make a fire in the fireplace, that kind of thing.”

Me: Yeah, but shouldn’t we be getting a rebate on the “sunshine tax” we pay?

“No,” Russo fires back, ignoring the hilarity of my dad joke. “We need water to drink, and this is normal,” she says. “It was a little high on the rain scale this year. In the grand scheme of things, this is planet Earth, man. It’s not that bad. Right now we’re replenishing our reservoirs.”

Me: (Sheepishly) Okay.

“You don’t need a rebate,” Russo declares. “You need drinking water. You don’t want to be brushing your teeth with Dr Pepper, Ron.”

Hmm. I can’t even imagine the post-apocalyptic heroes in HBO Max’s The Last of Us doing that.

Russo’s carbonated clarity washes over me. Atmospheric rivers are measurable life forces. I get it. And spoiled or not, we have to coexist with circle-of-life, climatic intangibles.

Weather…or not? That was the question all along.

“Forecast from The Sun” columnist Ron Donoho is a veteran contributor and editor of downtown-centric thesandiegosun.com.


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